Stranger Things season 5: what we know so far

Stranger Things season 5: what we know so far

Stranger Things season 5: key info

– Fifth season will be the final one in the mainline show
– No release date announced yet
– Filming may begin in early to mid-2023
– Core cast likely to return
– Major characters may die
– Should answer lingering questions about the Upside Down
– Spin-off and stage play projects in the works

The end is nigh. Stranger Things season 5 will be the final entry in the wildly popular Netflix show’s mainline series. And, frankly, we’re not ready to say goodbye to Eleven and company.

Despite our reluctance to bid farewell to our Hawkins-based heroes, it sounds like it’ll be a while before Stranger Things season 5 makes its way onto Netflix. The Duffer brothers, the show’s co-creators, aren’t sure about when filming will begin on Stranger Things’ fifth season. And, while we’d like the series’ final instalment to be here as soon as possible, we’re happy for the Duffers to take their time in making Stranger Things 5 as good as it can be. It also means we can delay the inevitable parting of the ways for as long as possible so, please, take your time guys.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of quotes from the cast and crew, plus other pieces of information, that offer hints at where the story may go in Stranger Things season 5. Below, we’ve compiled everything we can find on the show’s fifth and final entry, plus some other important bits that you’ll want to know about, such as its possible release date, when a trailer might arrive, which cast members are returning, and more.

Before we begin, make sure you’ve read our season 4 volume 2 ending explainer, which will catch you up on everything surrounding Stranger Things’ latest episodes. Alternatively, read up on how Stranger Things set a new record for Netflix or, despite its unparalleled success, why the show’s fourth season isn’t the best-rated series of 2022 so far.

Full spoilers for Stranger Things seasons 1 through 4 follow from this point on. If you’re not caught up on the supernatural horror sci-fi series, you’ll want to leave this page now. Otherwise, you’ll have big reveals ruined ahead of time.

Stranger Things season 5 release date

Stranger Things season 5 release date: what we know

When will Stranger Things season 5 launch on Netflix? (Image credit: Netflix)

Right now, there’s no word on when Stranger Things season 5 will be released.

Speaking to GQ magazine (opens in new tab), David Harbour – who plays Jim Hopper in the TV show – suggested that filming will begin “next year” once the Duffer brothers have penned the scripts. As long as there are no issues throughout its production, Stranger Things 5 could feasibly land sometime in 2024.

However, in a conversation with Collider (opens in new tab), the Duffer brothers were coy about when we may see the show’s fifth season air on Netflix. “It depends who you ask,” Matt Duffer said. “That’s what we’re still figuring out. If you ask our AD [assisant director] and our line producer, they want more time for production. Our post-production supervisor wants more time for post-production. So it’s going to be a big discussion. How long does everybody get? 

“Here’s the thing, the more you shorten production, the more you shorten post-production, the more things get compromised. Ross and I will always favor quality, I think. At the end of the day, I think it’s better that it’s good than that it comes out quickly.”

Sadie Sink, who plays Max Mayfield, has also suggested it’ll be a while before Stranger Things returns to our screens. Talking to Deadline (opens in new tab), she said: “It takes a while to get everything ready to go for a new season, because once we start filming, we do not stop. This last season took two years in total, so who knows how long season five will take. The Duffers definitely know the fans will be eagerly awaiting a fifth season, but I don’t think they’re gonna rush it. They wanna make the best final season that they could possibly make.”

As for the length of season 5’s episodes, the Duffers are planning to make them shorter than the fourth season’s offerings. Of course, it remains to be seen if that’ll be the case. Depending on how the Duffers want to wrap up the mainline show’s story, the length of Stranger Things 5’s episodes will be dictated by how long the scripts are. In short: we’ll have to wait and see what they cook up during the pre-production phase.

Stranger Things season 5 cast

Stranger Things season 5 cast: who’s returning?

Eleven stands in the corridor of the subterranean Nina Project in Stranger Things 4

Eleven will definitely be back for Stranger Things 5. (Image credit: Netflix)

There’s been no official confirmation on the cast front yet. But, based on how season 4 ended, here’s a list of the characters we expect to see return:

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven
Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers
David Harbour as Jim Hopper
Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler
Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson
Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair
Noah Schnapp as Will Byers
Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield
Joe Keery as Steve Harrington
Natalie Dyer as Nancy Wheeler
Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers
Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley
Brett Gelman as Murray Bauman
Priah Ferguson as Erica Sinclair
Eduardo Franco as Argyle

Of the above, Sadie Sink’s Max is the character most likely to perish early on in season 5. Viewers will remember that, following her near-fatal encounter with Vecna in the season 4 finale, Max is in a medically-induced coma in Hawkins Hospital. Additionally, Eleven, who went looking for Max in the Void, couldn’t find her. So nobody (fans or the cast) knows if Max will wake up or not.

Speaking after season 4 episode 9, aka The Piggyback, Sink confirmed she’s as much in the dark as fans are about Max’s fate. We still expect Max to appear in the show’s final season – in what capacity, though, it remains to be seen.

It’s possible that other supporting characters may feature in Stranger Things season 5. Karen Wheeler (Cara Buono), Ted Wheeler (Joe Chrest), Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sullivan (Sherman Augustus), Vickie (Amybeth McNulty), and Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo) could all appear, though it’s unclear how involved they’ll be. Dmitri Antonov (Tom Wlaschiha) and Yuri Ismaylov (Nikola Duricko) might be back, too, if season 5 is set in the US and Russia.

Meanwhile, there are other prominent characters whose fates were left unclear by the season 4 finale. Doctor Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) was left handcuffed to a pipe in the subterranean Nina Project, while Vecna (Jamie Campbell-Bower) had disappeared after he was severely injured by Nancy, Steve, and Robin in the real-world version of Creel House. We would expect both characters to return – they’re too important not to – but we’ll wait for Netflix to confirm this before we add them to the list above. For his part, Campbell-Bower wouldn’t confirm or deny if he’ll return to IGN (opens in new tab). Here’s hoping we find out sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately, season 4 fan favorite Eddie Munson (Joe Quinn) won’t be back. He died at the hands of the Upside Down’s demo-bats in season 4 episode 9, so Quinn is unlikely to return. That is, unless he somehow returns as a Star Wars-like Force Ghost or in a flashback sequence.

Stranger Things season 5 plot

Stranger Things season 5 plot: how will the show end?

The Hawkins gang investigate Creel House, one of the main locations in Stranger Things season 4

Stranger Things season 5 has plenty of plot threads to wrap up. (Image credit: Netflix)

Understandably, there’s very little information to go on for Stranger Things season 5’s story. In their respective chats with GQ and Deadline, David Harbour and Sadie Sink revealed that they “don’t know” how the final season will play out. Which isn’t surprising, what with the Duffer brothers still ironing out the scripts and Sink saying the duo have been “very secretive” about season 5 in general.

For their part, the Duffers hinted that they’ve got a rough plan in place for the show’s next instalment. However, Ross Duffer told The Wrap (opens in new tab) that the duo haven’t re-read it since the initial draft phase as it’s “too overwhelming” to contemplate right now. With season 4 released in full, they’ve surely returned to the drawing board and are hard at work thrashing out the next season’s scripts.

However, based on how Stranger Things 4 ended – read our season 4 part 2 ending explainer article for more details on what went down – there are story threads that Stranger Things season 5 will need to tie up to give the series a satisfying conclusion.

For starters, it’s likely that our heroes will band together as one massive group and try to put an end to Vecna and the Upside Down once and for all. The show’s major players were all back in Hawkins by the time season 4’s credits rolled. Unless the Duffer brothers split them up again in season 5, we should see Eleven, Hopper and company working together to stop the Upside Down from taking over the real world.

Based on the Duffer brothers’ comments on the Happy Sad Confused podcast (opens in new tab), that seems likely, too. The siblings have strongly suggested that season 5 will go back to the show’s roots and bring its protagonists together in a final fight with Vecna and his army.

“We want to go back to a lot things we did in season 1 and a lot of the original groupings and pairings that we had in season 1,” Matt Duffer explained. “There’s something nice about coming full circle. So, it’s going to feel bigger than season 1 and much more massive in terms of the stakes and the scale, but we want to revisit a lot of things we did.”

Vecna stares directly into the camera with a menacingly look on his face in Stranger Things season 4

Vecna should return as the big bad in Stranger Things season 5. (Image credit: Netflix)

Let’s take a step back and discuss Vecna now. The last we saw of Henry Creel/One/Vecna/whatever the group wants to call him, he’d been severely injured by Nancy, Steve, and Robin in his family’s former home. When the trio leave to locate his body, though, Vecna has disappeared.

The smart money is on Vecna surviving, so we’d be very surprised if he hasn’t crawled away to recover from his wounds. Technically, he was victorious at the end of season 4, too – Max died for a whole minute following his attack on her, enabling four major gates to the Upside Down to converge in the center of Hawkins, allowing it to begin erupting into the real world. So Vecna is sure to be back, as he’ll want to finish what he started – i.e. destroying earth and replacing it with the Upside Down.

As for Max, nobody knows what condition she’ll be in when season 5 arrives. Sink told Vulture (opens in new tab) that she expected Max to die in season 4, but the Duffer brothers were “never going to kill someone off for the sake of getting a gasp from the audience”. In the same interview, Sink also claimed that Max is “at a place where where she now really wants to fight”. We’ve suggested that Max’s story could go one of two ways in Stranger Things season 5 and, based on Sink’s comments, one sounds more likely than the other. Here’s hoping she pulls through to play an integral part in the final showdown with Vecna.

Speaking of character deaths, the cast and crew have varying thoughts on who may or may not perish in the show’s final season.

In her chat with Vulture, Sink claimed the Duffer brothers would only kill off a character if it was “essential in terms of moving the plot along”. That doesn’t rule out major character deaths in season 5, but it sounds like they’ll only happen if they’re an important vehicle for the show’s narrative.

Despite that, Millie Bobby Brown has told the Duffer brothers that they need to kill off some big players in Stranger Things season 5. “[At the season 4 premiere], we couldn’t even take one group picture because there were like 50 of us,” Brown told The Wrap (opens in new tab). “I was like, ‘You need to start killing people off.’ The Duffer brothers are two sensitive Sallies that don’t want to kill anyone off. We need to be Game of Thrones.”

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The Duffers have playfully responded to Brown’s comments since, telling the Happy Sad Confused podcast: “Believe us, we’ve explored all options in the writing room. Just as a complete hypothetical, if you kill Mike, that’s depressing. We aren’t Game of Thrones. This is Hawkins, it’s not Westeros. The show becomes not Stranger Things anymore because you do have to treat it realistically, right?”

Of the show’s major characters, who is most likely to survive? If we had to guess, Eleven and Mike seem like they’ll make it through season 5’s endgame and get their happy ending. Hopper, Joyce, and Will have all been through a lot (much like Eleven), so we suspect they’ll make it out alive, too. Everyone else, though, is fair game as far as we’re concerned.

Natalie Dyer hopes Nancy will live to tell the tale, however. Speaking to Cosmopolitan (opens in new tab), Dyer said: “I hope she has a happy ending. I hope they all make it and they’re not too traumatized after this. It’s hard, but I really do put my trust in the Duffers to just come up with something way better than I ever could even fathom.”

Whether Nancy does die or not will be up to the Duffers, but it sounds like the Hawkins crew will be put through the wringer in Stranger Things 5 before we find out if one or more of them bite the dust.

Teasing what fans can expect from the final season, Matt Duffer told TVLine (opens in new tab) that season 5 will likely feature a time jump, before revealing (via the Happy Sad Confused podcast) that season 5 will get right into the thick of the action from the get-go. That’s before a tense and captivating final few episodes, too, which he describes as being Lord of the Rings-esque in tone.

“We don’t wrap things up at the end of 4,” he said. “So, it’s going to be moving, I don’t know if it will be moving at 100 mph at the start of season 5, but it’s going to be moving pretty fast. Characters are already going to be in action, they’re already going to have a goal and a drive, and I think that’s going to carve out at least a couple of hours and make this season feel really different.

“It [the season 5 finale] is going to be Return of the King-ish with eight endings. If you just watch Return of the King, it feels like too many endings. [But] if you watch all of them back-to-back, which I’ve done multiple times, it’s exactly right. If it were any shorter, it would feel cheap and wrong.”

There are other subplots that Stranger Things season 5 needs to wrap up. 

Lieutenant Colonel Sullivan is sure to continue his tracking of Eleven, believing she’s responsible for the deaths in and around Hawkins. We need to know why the Upside Down is seemingly stuck in 1984, too – you know, after Nancy found out that this was the case. And we still don’t have all the answers about what the Upside Down is, why it’s spookier and more dingy than the realm Henry Creel first traveled to, or what The Shadow/Mind Flayer is exactly.

Then there’s the loose end concerning number eight – aka Kali Prasad. We haven’t seen Kali since season 2 and, unlike every other test subject under Doctor Brenner’s supervision (who had telekinetic abilities), she had different powers. Why was she the odd one out? And will we ever see her again? It’s possible that Stranger Things 5 won’t answer those queries. After all, the Duffers have confirmed (via Variety (opens in new tab)) that they’ve retconned specific plot points from earlier seasons in later instalments, so maybe Kali’s story is just one of those lingering mysteries we’ll never get closure on.

Stranger Things season 5 trailer

Stranger Things season 5 trailer: is there one?

Max levitates as she battles Vecna for her mind and soul in Stranger Things season 4

Waiting on that Stranger Things season 5 trailer like… (Image credit: Netflix)

No, and there won’t be for a long time yet. Once one is released, we’ll update this section.

Stranger Things season 5: the future

Stranger Things season 5: will the show end after the final season?

A group of some of Stranger Things' main cast stare at something off screen in season 4 volume 1

There’s more Stranger Things content on the way. (Image credit: Tina Rowden/Netflix)

Stranger Things season 5 will bring the curtain down on the show’s main story. Chatting to ScreenRant (opens in new tab), executive producer Shawn Levy said: “We never wanted to run on fumes and we wanted to only tell as much story as the brothers saw and feel with clarity. So it’s been clear for a while that they know exactly where we’re headed and this is the arc. We wouldn’t want to stick around for one moment beyond that vision and the clarity of that voice.”

However, there are other Stranger Things projects in the works at Upside Down Pictures, aka the Duffer brothers’ newly formed production company.

Announced in a Netflix press release, Upside Down Pictures will develop a number of movies and TV shows exclusively for Netflix, including a new live-action Death Note project, which fans of the iconic manga don’t want to happen. Alongside that TV adaptation and other non-Stranger Things productions, though, Netflix confirmed that two Stranger Things spin-off projects were also in the works at Upside Down Pictures.

Firstly, a stage play – set in the world and mythology of Stranger Things – is on the way. It’ll be produced by multi-award winning duo Sonia Friedman and Stephen Daldry, whose works include The Crown and Billy Elliot, alongside Netflix. Daldry has also been installed as the stage play’s director.

On the TV and movie front, Upside Down Pictures will also develop a Stranger Things spin-off. There’s hardly any information on what this will entail, but Netflix states that it’ll be an “original idea” from the Duffer brothers. We don’t expect the spin-off project to feature characters from the mainline series. If we had to guess, we suspect  it will be set around the events of Stranger Things season 5 – you know, what with the Upside Down bleeding over into the real world – and follow a new group of characters as they learn to live in (or battle against) the changing world.

Our hope is that the spin-off will be more of an anthology series, following a different person (or people) and their experiences of the Upside Down merging with the real world. Think of it as Tales of the Walking Dead, an anthology spin-off series to AMC’s The Walking Dead, or The Boys’ animated spin-off, Diabolical, on Prime Video – something that runs parallel to the story that Stranger Things season 5 tells. Make it so, Netflix.

Author: Brandon Torres